Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Loving the Fall weather!!!

This weather makes me so happy:) I rode 2 horses yesterday and today, and didn't even sweat, ha ha!:) Had a lovely ride on the Tiki boy yesterday ... set up a 3 jump gymnastic with progressively larger crossrails with quiet distances and a placing pole in between. I then set up an outside line with a normal cavelletti and a "tall" cavelletti stack jump. I set it up a little bigger then last time; I'd guess it was about 2'9 or so. Set that on a normal 5 stride line. I've put him back in the figure 8 with the Waterford bit, and it seems to be working fairly well. It was suggested to me at the last show to get him to close his mouth a bit:( Sooo, I'm back to strapping his mouth closed. He flatted nicely, and I worked on making my canter transitions more prompt. I think he did well. Warmed him up over the small cavelletti a few times, then trotted in/cantered out of the line. He jumped out well, even adding a stride! Trotted into the gymnastic, and he jumped through it with no problems. Just kept him quiet and trotted into everything everytime, and he felt great.

Today I did hill sets and trot sets. It was fun to have my fresh, "snorty" horse back, lol. He snorted and snuffled in time to his trotting:) It was such a LOVELY, cool day, and the wind was blowing a little bit, and he liked it! Tomorrow, I'm trail riding with 2 of my friends that are trailering out. I'm SO looking forward to it! Until then ... the firstvideo from day two at the show:)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No ride, but another video!

Had a baby shower to go to today, so Tiki enjoyed yet another Jen-less day; here is the next video for your viewing and critiquing pleasure!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Next video installment:)

Next installment! Again with the 2'3 jumpers; this time it's the course then the 2nd video is the jump off. My boy was quite awesome!:)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lesson today!

Haven't sat on my boy all week, and Nicole and I decided to take a lesson today. Probably not the GREATEST idea, but it was an idea all the same:) He came out SUPER stiff. And as usual, he was lazy, lazy, lazy. All the babies are growing their coats in, and it's been hot and humid, so that didn't help the laziness issue. Susan said he's stepping under himself better, AND he looked like his butt was muscling up, yay! Apparently I need to cut off my arms.:) I'm way over using my inside rein, and keep dropping the outside. I don't know why this is a problem with me riding him, because I don't feel like I do that on Mick and Audrey. Maybe it's because I'm so focused on THEM, and trying to be perfect that on Tiki I relax try to stay out of his face.

Worked on leg yielding and shoulder-in today. This is where the way over bending with the inside rein occured. His body should be straighter during BOTH exercises. It was so fabulous because I've NEVER been taught either of those moves. After trying a few times, he really started to get them well. I had been doing them, but they were just too bent and not angled properly.

Cantered, and he felt good, but our transitions need work ... which I'm fully aware of. I just NEED to make him do them well without trying to do all the work for him. That was mostly my problem today; I was WAY over riding and trying to literally hold him up with my hands, and muscle him around with my legs. When I just let go and sat straight and put my leg on, he was so much better. I need that now and again; I know I'm on the right track with my boy, but it is SO helpful to have eyes on me to help me not ride like a monkey, ha ha!:)

OK, first course of the weekend! This is the 2'3 jumpers, table 2.21, which was simply one course ridden on time and faults. We were clear, and he felt good. Put 3 in the 2 stride the first time, but I was expecting that and was ready for it. I think there's one or 2 akward jumps in this one, but nothing tragic or awful. Lead changes were THERE!

Monday, September 21, 2009

5 blue ribbons later ...

What an incredible weekend! I had more fun than I've had in quite awhile! Tiki was like night and day different. He was forward, he was confident, and he was a superstar!!! It certainly helped that I actually sat up and rode well, if I do say so myself! We did 6 jumping classes over 2 days ... and the schooling Friday night was so much better than it had been at Conyers. Really, he flatted very forward and bucky and fresh, ha ha. He'd just gotten his massage Thursday morning, and I hacked him in a saddle and his halter afterwards. Then Friday it was over to Wills Park, and in the covered ring. He was head shaking a little bit, stretched low through his neck, and felt very loose and light. Schooled over all the fences in the ring, and while he may have looked at a few and jumped a few pretty big, there wasn't a SINGLE stop and leap at all. Put him away, plyed with peppermints, and prepared for Saturday morning.

We were pretty much first thing at 8:30 in the morning. It was a rainy, miserable excuse for a day. It picked that time to chill and stop raining for a few minutes, so I quickly hacked and warmed up in the outside ring, then darted under the shelter of the covered ring just as the skies opened up again. Went in for my first class, which was at 2'3 and was simply a timed/fault course. It was fairly simple, and he jumped around clean and forward. First! Second course was a class, then the jumpoff, still at 2'3. Another good course, and we were first again! Last course was a 2'6 class, and even though he touched a few, jumped around clean again, but we were second to a horse that definitely looked as though he'd done a few jumper classes! By the end of the course, both of us were tired! Both of us hold our breath while we're in there, lol. Hopped off, put him away with peppermints, carrots, and hay, then did my coaching thing for the rest of the day.

Sunday dawned rainy and miserable. Managed to get all my kids taken care of before my classes came up, and I got pretty soaked even with a poncho! Tacked the boy back up, and once again, the rain stopped long enough for us to go in the sloppy, rain soaked schooling ring to loosen up and jump a few warmup jumps before heading in the ring for our ONE 2'3 class! Sunday was a much tougher course than Saturday, WOW! An in and out identical to the one at Conyers; an airy oxer to a vertical. A jump right on the end of the bottom of the ring, an akward corner jump, and several long bending lines. First course was course then jumpoff, and we were clear and SO fast that Becca said we were getting too flat. I could feel that; I was a little more forward with my shoulders because I just felt so. darn. comfortable! Tiki was so good; those jumps down on the end and in the corner were awkwardly placed, and he DID give them a good look, but I really sat back and closed my leg. Never put 2 in the in and out, he got the step each time, yay! We were clean and fast, but we were also the only ones in that class, so of COURSE we got a blue, ha ha!;) Next, back up to 2'6. Same identical course. This time it did feel better than before, but on the final oxer of the course, he touched it with his foot just right and rolled it off, so no jumpoff. Despite that, we still managed to win the class, yay! Final course was also at 2'6, and it was terrible. Not from Tiki, but from a design standpoint, yuck! First part was ok, but then there was a tough turn from 2 jumps set on identical diagonals; for instance, they were set like this:


Had to do a left hand rollback from the top jump to the bottom jump, set on that diagonal. It was weird, but he did it! That was the "power" portion of the class, then the "speed" final turn was this:


We had to go from the top diagonal jump towards the bottom of the screen, then the straight jump underneath back towards the top of the screen. I had to angle the diagonal jump the wrong way, pulled him right so I could spin him on his butt to get to the straight quarter line jump. We were clear with good time. One of the other girls was clear also, but jumped the diagonal, then looped around to get to the quarter line jump, and was counted as a refusal. I'm so thankful Becca was there to remind me you can NOT cross your path in the jumpers! So, bad course design in my opinion, but we won that one as well, so it wasn't THAT bad!

What an amazing weekend. I have videos from all of our rounds, so I will post each one one at a time again like I did last time. No hunter rounds this time; concentrating on the jumpers exclusively. We were such a great team; I am proud, proud, proud!!! And the best part is we've done it on our own; I haven't spent oodles of money on training rides, lessons, and pros horseshowing him for me. It's been just me, with 3 lessons in a whole year, and occasional input from my awesome friends that have helped me find a direction and stay on it. He may have the entire week off, if the weather forecasts are accurate for this week. Rain, rain, and more rain. In Austell and Douglasville, (where we lived before we moved to Cartersville) there is some crazy, amazing flooding! Creeks are high, homes are destroyed, and horses are having to be rescued and evacuated. I am thankful and grateful that my house is at the top of a hill, as is the barn I teach at, and is the barn my horse lives at! No worries there, but if you can spare some prayers, please pray for the families and animals that are dealing with the scary realites of real life flooding! It's almost unreal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Once again, T-3 days and counting ...

Well, it's almost upon us. Our second show. Probably the last one this season, I'm thinking. I've got IEA shows coming up, and I'd like to put a little money towards some clinics or lessons. I think I'd like to hold off until maybe March or so before we venture into the ring again, maybe get solid at 3' and do the level 1/2 jumpers. Anyway! Gave my boy Sunday off and rode yesterday bareback and with a halter. He was good! It was the first time I've *really ridden him bareback. Spent tons of time moving him off my leg at the walk. Did a bunch of leg yields, turns on the forehand, and halts. He was GOOD! Spiraled again, but at the walk.:) Leg yielded out of the circle. Trotted nice and slow and worked on my balance. Canter wanted to get rolling a bit, and I had to nip that in the bud! Trotted into a pole line and halted in the center. He felt great! I had to do some housework today, sadly, so Tiki didn't even lay eyes on me today ... he was probably happy about that! No ride tomorrow because he's getting his second massage; will flat him pretty well on Thursday and then it's Friday; schooling day! I'm excited; I plan to ride like my usual self and not drop him at the base of every fence, so hopefully we'll have a great weekend. Later y'all!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Final video!

Well. Had a super awesome day today, despite the fact that it began by my literally getting kicked in the head:( I swear, 13 years ago when I was in my riding heyday, I never got hurt on the ground. I did, however, fall off pretty much every single time I had a lesson and jumped a fence. So, on average, I would fall about twice a week. Fortunately, since having my son, I've scaled back on my "crazy" factor, and don't ride the 'wild childs' any more, and since I don't do ballet any more, I can actually keep my heel down and my leg under my hip. All good things! But in the last year, it seems as though I'm bound and determined to break something or put myself out of comission on the ground! Just today, I was bent over taking Tiki's leg wraps off from his trailer ride this morning, and he lifted his foot to stomp off a fly, and the back edge of his shoe caught me on the temple. Broke my sunglasses and everything! Then, after an awesome lesson, I was loading him on the trailer, and he stepped off the ramp, crowded me against the fence and stomped the he&& out of my little toe!! GRRRRR ...

Anyway, had two good days in a row. Yesterday, we flatted pretty intensely. I worked on ME; dropped my stirrups and worked on my sitting trot and canter with no stirrups. Worked on HIM, with lots of halts, transitions, shoulder-in, and lead changes. They're getting a LITTLE better; he will do them when I ask now, but tends to pull my arms out afterwards. Baby steps, baby steps ...

Had dropped my jumps down to poles, and worked on precision. Cantered 2 in a one stride, did 4 in a 3, cantered into the one, circled, then did the 2nd in the line. Halted in between the poles of the 3 stride. Lined up poles and cavs on a TIGHT "slice" diagonal, and worked on cantering those. Ended up very well; he was an excellent boy; did want to pull a little, but overall he was awesome.

Today, trailered in to Patchwork so my friend Becca could torture, I mean help, us.;) Began with some bending and softening at the trot, did some nice transitions, cantered a little to loosen up, and then did the Spirals of Death. I mean, I've practiced spirals ... at the trot. We spiraled All. The. Way. In. (at the canter!) It was WILD! Did both directions, and it was HARD. Afterwards though, his trot was simply amazing. Balanced, on the bit, forward, and ALL I was doing was closing my leg! Trotted a pole to a crossrail/halted. His mouth gaped, his neck pulled me forward, and he reluctantly geared down. Trotted out of the line over a nicely substantial tall crossrail. Halted. Rinse, reapeat. Rinse, repeat. He was getting better and better, and more responsive. Cantered into the arch jump. No hesitation what so ever. Halted. Added on a rollback to a gate. Halted. Hey, he was starting to get the idea!

It is so funny; Becca was having me work on sitting down and back at the canter ... which I CAN do, no problem! As I cantered into the jump, I could feel my shoulders wanting so badly to creep forward:( Strung a few together without the halts, and he felt simply amazing. I only jumped up his neck on one, and it was the trot crossrail. She raised a few up to 2'9 and 3', and we jumped this great course of a tall green gate, rollback to the arch. This was GOOD! My rollback was tight, neat, and he felt very handy. Went to the skinny that she'd jacked up, and he bunny hopped over it. From there to the massive Auburn oxer; I've done a 2'9 oxer, but not 3'. This one was 3'! Our distance wasn't there, he petered out, and I think my brain might have sent subliminal signals to make him stop. I half heartedly popped him with my hand, then went to the skinny again. It was better, but still not good. Stopped. I knew then that I wasn't brave enough to help him over it, so she dropped the oxer rail. Did the skinny one more time, and he finally got over it well. Stopped like a GOOB at the former oxer again, and this time I got onto him hard; he was just being a sh%^ head. Circled, and squeezed a little spur in him this time, and he cleared it by about 2' ... which sucks when the jump is already 2'9! From there to the outside line where we had a 3' vertical, and he was AWESOME, then to the other outside line where we finished with another 3' vertical, and he jumped it well, but stalled a little once he'd already left the ground, so he felt ROUND. Came around again to the Auburn former oxer, and he jumped it well this time ... had Becca put the oxer pole back up, and we tried again. Cleared it perfectly, so I let him be done.

He was DRIPPING. Also, had a little gash on his hind leg *under* his polo wrap, and had some weird bumps under his girth right behind his elbow?? Question for y'all that have actually made it to the end of this novel: Does anyone stretch their horse's front legs out after tightening the girth? I did this today just for the heck of it, and now I'm thinking those yucky bumps were a result of his skin getting pinched. I'm almost thinking I shouldn't stretch the legs out anymore. Opinions? Maybe I should park the fleecy girth for awhile, and use the anatomical girth at home and see if that makes a difference. Poor baby! Overall, I think we got a LOT out of our first ever jumper lesson today, and I'm so thankful Becca took the time to work with us today; it was GREAT!!!!!:)

OK, final video. This one is the flat (undersaddle). I thought he was a superstar, but I guess none of the other horses made any mistakes because he was 4th again. Oh well, won't have to worry about it this time since we're only doing jumper classes!:)
(BTW, sorry about the fact that my mom is yapping on the phone the whole time here. Just ignore her!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Video number 3!:)

Did some butt work today, yay! My boy was awesome:) It is so interesting ... at the base of EVERY hill, he tried to stick his head up and trot. I used my voice and reins and asked for the walk; at that point, his ENTIRE topline changed ... the head dropped and stretched, and I could feel his hind end powering his body up the hill. I think it was literally the first time I could REALLY feel his back literally come up underneath me. He was more or less on the buckle the whole time; I had just enough contact to not have swinging reins. The trot was relaxed and soft, and I didn't touch his face hardly at all. After a nice workout for about half an hour, I let him gallop up one of the more gradual hills; WOW! That feeling of near out of control power is incredible. I let him jump our little log jump twice, and ended with another *teeny* gallop.:) After that, he even came back down to the buckle and didn't try to jig or run off. I LOVE my pony!

OK, hunter round number 2 ... this one was better up until the LAST line where I had NO idea where I was in my line, and in my determination to not chip that stupid jump I'd chipped twice already, I left out a full stride and instead of a 5 and a chip, I did 4 and a chip, and he ended up taking out the entire jump. I was proud because we GOT our changes this time, and I felt it was overall the best jumping round despite the final "oops".

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The next video!

Rode my pumpkin today. He flatted well; I worked on slipping him the reins a little more, like Janet had me do with Audrey yesterday. I'm looking forward to his next massage; he still feels so stiff to me. He's just not getting supple at ALL, and I work so much on extending, collecting, bending, etc. He's so much better than he WAS, but it still just isn't GREAT, you know? Oh well, I'll keep working and asking and trying and maybe this time next year I'll be posting about how we're planning to attend the George Morris clinic in Birmingham in October.;) Anyway, I have video number 2 to post; this was our first hunter round. Not HORRIBLE, but we do miss 2 lead changes, rightfully earning our 4th out of 4.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More videos!

Took Audrey for a lesson with Janet today; what a GOOD GIRL!!! I have NEVER in all the months I've ridden her kicked her. Ever. Never ridden in a crop, and only rode in spurs once, and that was on accident. Today, she was quiet enough that I had to cluck AND kick. She was SO good today. Just really sacked out and went on a pretty loose rein; canter work was just fantabulous. She just has the best, most naturally balanced canter I've felt, probably ever. Jumped her first crossrail and didn't stop or jump 3' over it. I was quite proud.

OK, here's the vidoe of our fateful jumper round. Constructive criticism is always welcome. It looks bad enough, but it felt WAY worse than it actually looks. Love how I canter into the jump on the wrong lead (not). Ugh ... oh well, hopefully in 2 weeks I can't be any worse ... right???!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Updating ...

Just updating a bit. Been a quiet week again. After Wednesday, longed Tiki boy Thurday; he was good; lazy as usual. Cantered right lead and he did cross canter a little, so he probably needs to learn to pick up his right lead on a proper bend. Usually, we get the right lead from a counter bend ... bad Jen! Now that he can actually canter equally on both leads, there's no excuse for not getting him set up properly.

Friday, I rode 4. Started with Chester, and he was so good! Just a nice, easy trot for about 20 mins, then worked his good (right) lead, which has REALLY improved. For a time, his canter was SO bad, I only worked the trot for a few weeks, to try and get him balanced and bent. For a time, his left lead has been non-existant. The cowboy worked on simply cantering, NOT leads. So, getting him to realize he has a left lead is HARD. I've been working my tail off to reinforce left lead = ending work, and he's finally getting it! Got the left lead after only 2 tries, which was a record for him:)

Then rode Audrey. I tell you, when did she get fun?? It's crazy; I used to feel so horrible on her, and I was terrified of screwing her up. Now, I really look forward to riding her. I've gotten used to her bouncy little trot, and we have a bond now. Her canter is just a dream. She's got a natural, easy lead change that I WISH I could package up and put on Tiki. She moves off my leg, does TOTFH easily, makes the step over POLES, can also add the step over poles, and moves consistently forward with virtually no leg from me. I've actually been working on PUTTING my leg on her, since she's so sensitive to it. She's just a good girl!

Mick is my newest ride, and he's only hard because he's so big. His trot is CRAZY! His canter is just lovely, and his attitude is great. He's just so "Whatever", lol. He's taken Audrey's place as my challenging ride; I have to fight every step to keep my body in position, so for the most part, I just work on being EFFECTIVE, NOT pretty. The whole package will get there, it just takes time. Currently just working on asking him to hold himself up, and keeping his butt under his body.

Tiki was good. Rode in draw reins today; I decided that his neck needs to bend, and his butt needs to work twice as hard as it has been, so he can build muscle along his back and topline. The only reason his back is still undermuscled is because I'm obviously lacking in the "getting Tiki to use his ENGINE" department. I will probably only jump once this week, because I won't get to ride until Wednesday. Stayed home today to rest up from the NASCAR race yesterday, and will be riding Audrey in a lesson with Janet tomorrow. Joyce will ship her out, I'll lesson, then Joyce will take her home. I'll stay in Canton and teach my usual lessons, then I have a meeting later for my IEA team. So ... no riding the Tiki boy until mid-week. I'll try and get the mares down front, and do some more hill work this week. 2 more weeks until our 2nd jumper debut!:)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Good ride today.

Today actually felt really good. It was sort of 'rinse and repeat' from Monday. Today I woke up with a bad runny nose, so that explains why I stayed in bed all day instead of riding yesterday! Rode Mick first, and let me tell you ... he is HARD. That trot is absolutely unreal. Plus, he's so wide he literally hurts my right hip ... I rode Tiki right after him, and he felt SO tiny, lol. Warmed up with my usual exercise; circle, reverse across a pole, circle, reverse across a pole, repeat indefinitely until horse seems to supple up. Cantered both leads, no issues with the right one. Had my identical jump course set still from Monday, and mixed things up a little.

Trotted into a single cav. Good. Landed right lead for a left turn, so halted and backed. Trotted across the pole and reversed; REALLY worked on the proper bends. Trotted the cav 'stack' jump ... he did bang it, but didn't knock it down. Landed left lead for a right turn so halted and backed. Walked for a second, then did it again. This time after the stack, he jumped that SO much better, and landed on a LOVELY, soft right lead canter. Kept going to the oxer line. Got a great distance, but dumbbutt me didn't support with enough leg, so he overjumped the oxer from a bit of a stutter. Did the 3 easy, then stuttered off at the vertical as well because I hadn't recovered yet. AGH! Patted his neck in apology, then repeated the exercise with the trotting in. Much better! Nailed the oxer line nicely, but I was unsatisfied with my release. Did the course ONE more time, asking for flying changes over the pole this time and got them! Asked him to leave WAY long for the oxer, and he did as I asked. Knocked the jump hard, and I pulled him out of the line because I didn't think we'd make it. Let him recover for a second, then did JUST the 3 stride again; got it good! Focused HARD on making sure I gave him a GREAT auto release. Felt like I did. Had a good distance, gave him plenty of leg, and made sure my hand dropped low on the neck so I could maintain a straight line from bit to elbow. AWESOME! Felt as though he was really good today. I felt good, too, so hopefully tomorrow will continue that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another show ... what am I thinking?!;)

Sooo, looks like we'll be doing another show in 3 weeks. This time, I'll stick 100% with the jumpers. That's what I want to do with my boy, so why torture him with the hunters? Haven't done much with him this week. Rode yesterday and jumped him for the first time since the show. He felt GREAT! Willing, forward, and just like normal.:) Set up a nice sized 2'9 oxer to a 3' vertical, and had set up 2 cavellettis on TOP of each other, making a sort of scary looking 2'6ish jump. Had 2 poles set to practice lead changes over. Interestingly, he had right lead issues.:( He'd had his massage Saturday afternoon, and I rode him Monday after he had Sunday off. Felt good; nice and loose, but when I asked for the right lead, he had trouble. Celeste did tell me he felt sore on the right side, and Tiki let her really get into the muscle deep on that side. She said he did not let her really mess with the left side too much, and obviously, that's the side where he has to start his right lead. Overall, he felt pretty much the same to me; his right lead issues are certainly nothing new. Riding the rest of this week! The weather is COOL for a few days, yay!!